Being an influencer has become a career choice. It seems easy – all you need is a social media account, some quirky content and away you go. Sadly, for every account with hundreds of thousands of followers, there are thousands with very few.
There is opportunity out there. Spending with influencers is still growing, and it has becoming an option small businesses are also looking to tap into. Some of these smaller players are less interested in those with big follower counts, more in the smaller ones who talk to a niche. Ripe pickings for those who can attract them.
I’ve had dealings with a few influencers over the past couple of years that have varied from the jaw-droppingly awful to the reassuringly professional. The former seemed to think all they need do was post a few images with a link to a brand and that’s the job done. The latter were prepared, presented their case well and acted like “influencer” was their profession.
What follows are a few observations which I hope will help you stand out from the crowd.
When you’re approached by a company interested in using your influence, act professionally. Have a basic understanding of what it means to be in business, who regulates your activities and what’s expected of you. Being authentic is fine, as long as you remember you have to sell yourself as a supplier to a client.
The biggest problem I faced dealing with influencers was getting a sense of their influence. I will come to you and ask for your help to build awareness of my brand. Claiming to have ‘x’ thousand followers is not where that conversation starts or ends.
Know your audience inside out. Give me a media pack that has the demographic and psychographic data that will help me choose you. Show me pictures that demonstrate how people are likely to respond to the messages you carry on my behalf. This is what I am spending my money on, so give me a reason to spend it with you.
Have the right social media account
Not all social media accounts are created equal. If you want me to take you seriously as an influencer, have the right type of account.
Know your platform
The potential client coming to you may not know your social media platform thoroughly, so make sure you do. You should be able to talk through topics such as response tracking and lead generation. I’ll expect you to help me with the right time of day to post, what hashtags work best and the sort of response I can expect to get from different content types.
No one likes rules but they exist. Some come from the terms of service on the platform, others from the law. As an advertising outlet, I’ll be responsible for the adverts you post on my behalf, so I’ll expect you to understand the basics of what’s allowed on the network and advertising regulation. If you’re collecting leads, I’ll want reassurance around GDPR.
If you’re in the UK you should read the Advertising Standard Authority’s guidance for influencers.
Willingness to Engage
There seems to be an arrogance that follows some influencers around. Yes, you have the audience and the “influence”, but I am your customer and pay your bills. That’s your arrogance reflected back.
The worst influencers I’ve come across seemed to expect someone to give them a product for them to do with as they please. My need to present products in a way consistent with my brand was not their concern.
The best influencers have been willing to be a part of the process. They’ll help shape creative and content, but they’ll also know where the line is they cannot cross. The trick – and their skill – is knowing how to work within these limits and still be authentic.
This is a commercial relationship. I am giving you money for advertising. There will be a contract, an invoice and a payment.
Have a contract ready. Many of the small businesses I’ve worked with don’t have contracts to hand and expect to use their supplier’s as a starting point. Some will negotiate, others will accept it.
You’ll need an invoice which should have an invoice number, a payment due date, VAT number or other business number, business details (including a physical address) and the correct amount on it. If a business doesn’t have an invoice, it has nothing to pay you against.
Asking for cash rarely goes down well. Businesses have to account for their payments, so have a bank account where your fee can be sent.
Finally, do what the contract says. If it’s 5 posts over 5 days at specific times do it. Provide the reports you promised in the format you said at the time you agreed to. If you haven’t completed your contract, don’t be surprised if your invoice is rejected and you’re asked to finish the work first.
Being an influencer might be a way for you to pay a few bills or a full-time career. There are so many promising much and delivering little that businesses can afford to be picky and set some high expectations. Equally, there are more marketers looking for niche influencers who can help position their brands with potential customers.
If you’re going to succeed in this world, remember it’s a business. You’re an advertising outlet for someone whose brand is important to them and they’ll expect you to treat it – and them – with respect.
Act professionally from the first contact until you’ve received your final payment. Provide good quality information and be willing to collaborate with your client. Conduct yourself as a professional and you will stand out from the crowd.